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How Blue Economy Can Help Nigeria Diversify

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) shocked not a few last year when it disclosed that within one year, it contributed N9.975 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Within this period, the agency has also paid $38,272,12.12 million to the CRF. This comes to N21.805 billion.

The breakdown shows that the agency on June 1, 2016 paid N5 billion into the CRF as “part payment of operating surplus for 2015 and 2016”. It followed up on June 2, last year with N4.975b “payment made into the CRF 2016 operating surplus”.

The agency paid $7 million on November 22, 2016 as “part payment of 2016 operating surplus”. On April 19, this year, NIMASA made another payment of $15 million to the CRF.

The agency on July 18, last year paid $16.272.121.12 million into the CRF as “payment of 2017 operating surplus”.

Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun on September 13 praised the management of the agency, led by Dr. Dakuku Peterside, for shoring up its contributions to the federal purse.

Mrs. Adeosun, who spoke at a workshop in Abuja on compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility (FRA) Act, said the management of NIMASA brought down operational cost and was able to generate more money by half year than it did in the two preceding years.

”Unlike NIMASA and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), some Agencies and Departments are operating in such a manner that returned minimal funds to government. To this effect, a circular has been issued restricting allowable expenses in line with reforms occurring across government businesses, as compliance checks would be undertaken regularly to ensure that all Agencies and Departments adhere to the new requirements.”

The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, also said despite the general downturn in accruable revenue to government due to the economic situation, the remittances to the CRF by NIMASA this year had been the highest by the Agency in recent years.

“It was also the first time in recent years that NIMASA will remit huge revenue into the government coffers,” he said.

For 2015, NIMASA’s contributions to the CRF was only N2 billion and $15m. There was also the payment of $24,025, 017.90, described as “direct debit by CBN on NIMASA accounts”. About half of 2015 was under the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Peterside as director-general on March 10, 2016.

The increase in NIMASA’s contribution to the Federation Account, analysts say, underscores the role blue economy can play in helping the country to diversify its revenue sources.

Peterside hit the nail on the head at the 23rd Nigerian Economic summit where he declared that the time to take advantage of the oceans and boost the economy was now. The NIMASA chief urged Nigerians to key into the opportunities afforded by the Blue economy, which he stated, is the fastest growing sector in the world with enormous business potentials. He added that with the length of the nation’s coastline and the attendant volume of maritime trade, Nigeria is at an advantage of developing the blue economy and stakeholders have to actively participate to reap the benefits of the sector.

According to Dr. Peterside, “developing the blue economy is paramount across the globe now, and the public and private sector have to collaborate to sustainably harness the potentials of our maritime sector for the benefit of the Nigerian economy, especially as the Federal Government continues the economic diversification drive”.

The NIMASA DG also stated that economies of Singapore, Ukraine and South Korea thrive on the activities of their maritime sector.

He further suggested that with improved maintenance culture, adequate data management and statistics as well as articulated actions from stakeholders backed up with  political will, Nigeria will be a leading light in the comity of maritime nations.

Dr Peterside advocated synergy within stakeholders stating that the Agency with the support of the Federal Government is working assiduously to ensure that Nigerians reap the benefits that abound the sector. He pointed out that the newly approved maritime security architecture will effectively reduce piracy and other related sea crimes.

Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, speaking at the Nor-Shipping, a bi-annual event that brings together stakeholders in the maritime sector from various continents, in Lillstrome (Norway), said: “Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with about 183 million people and by extension, with the cumulative population of two landlocked countries of Chad Republic which is 14.9m people and Niger Republic with 21.3m people creates a huge consuming market and comparable cheap labour,” he said in Norway, while adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration “is committed to ensuring that Nigeria becomes a maritime hub for the West and Central Africa sub region.”

A major step taken by NIMASA to drive the blue economy  was its compliance with the presidential directive on the resumption of 24-hour turnaround time for analysing cargo manifests and issuing Debit Notes to Shipping Agents.

It extended work hours for some staff of the Agency in the Shipping Development Department. The Agency’s Offices are also open on weekends in order to accommodate shipping Agents willing to do business.

Shipping Agents can therefore access the Agency at these times with their manifests for further necessary action after which a Debit Note will be issued to them not later than 24 hours after submission.

Nigeria, through NIMASA, is set to benefit from deep sea mining through effective harnessing of the opportunities stemming from working with the International Seabed Authority (ISBA).

The ISBA, which is an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will help the country in the area of capacity building to survey deep sea and establish a database of mineral resources available for the benefit of all mankind.

At the moment, the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic office is undertaking hydrographic survey and charting of the country’s maritime area, while NIMASA cooperates with the Navy to effectively enforce the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea and other relevant international maritime instruments.

Under Peterside, Nigeria will soon take delivery of the fifth largest floating dock in Africa, which is expected to be delivered by the last quarter of the year. In addition, as part of the efforts to ease doing business in Nigeria, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) have stepped up efforts to fast track investment entry into the country, among which is the commencement of a 24-hour ports operations.

“Nigeria has not only put the right infrastructure in place, but has put the right regulatory regime and also a set of incentives to make us a hub,” Peterside said. “So, talk about stability, you can say Nigeria has it, and the government is also working on intermodal transport system to facilitate the ease of doing business and of course good regulatory regime.”

These changes have impacted the overall performance of ports operations by reducing the dwell time of vessels calling the Lagos ports while increasing efficiency of the entire system.

Peterside noted that the long dwell time of vessels calling Lagos Ports was stifling trade instead of facilitating it.

He observed: “The Executive Order signed by the Acting President for resumption of 24 hour port operations is aimed at improving efficiency and facilitating trade in Lagos Ports. As a responsible Agency, we are committed to implementing this directive and if it means extending work hours or even instituting a shift system, we will”.

The DG stated that the new approach to analysing manifests and issuing Debit Notes will be constantly monitored and evaluated to ensure its effectiveness while automation of the entire process is receiving priority attention.

Already, dwell time of vessels at the ports which were previously attributed to delays in issuing Debit Notes and Sailing Clearance has reduced considerably.

NIMASA is also expediting action on automating its processes to allow for electronic submission of manifests, issuing of debit Notes and Sailing Clearances which will further reduce human interaction, improve efficiency and block revenue leakages.

 


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